New Zealand Art - Colin McCahon

Few other 20th century New Zealand painters have received the international respect and admiration that has been accorded to Colin McCahon (1919-1987). The distinctive power and originality of his images have made him a giant of New Zealand painting.

Issue information

McCahon was born in Timaru, but spent most of his life in Auckland, where he worked at the Auckland Art Gallery and taught at the Elam School of Art. He began as a landscape painter, and from this a visionary style evolved featuring the placement of religious images and words against New Zealand landscape backdrops. His painting career spanned five decades.

Product Listing for New Zealand Art - Colin McCahon

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Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single 40c 'The Promised Land, 1948' gummed stamps.

Oil on canvas, Auckland Art Gallery collection, gift of the McCahon family 1989 (1989/51/1).

This painting is drawn from the period when McCahon first began to experiment in using painting as a vehicle for explicit messages, with particular emphasis on religious themes.

Single Stamp

Single $1.00 'Six Days in Nelson and Canterbury, 1950' gummed stamp.

Oil on canvas on board, Auckland Art Gallery collection, gift of the Friends of the Auckland Art Gallery 1978 (1978/12).

It was during the 1950's that the 'McCahon style' became firmly established. This was one of a number of paintings from this, and later periods, that deals with revelation and discovery of New Zealand through an imaginary journey into the landscape.

Single Stamp

Single $1.50 'Northland Panels, 1958 (detail)' gummed stamp.

Oil-based house paints on unstretched canvas, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa collection (B41188).

McCahon and his wife travelled to the United States in 1958. This exposure to fresh and exciting visual stimuli became immediately evident in the scale and ambition of his work, with the Northland Panels being one example.

Single Stamp

Single $1.80 'Moby Dick is Sighted off Muriwai Beach, 1972' gummed stamp.

Acrylic on canvas, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa collection (B385668).

One of McCahon's studios was located at Muriwai. The changing moods of this west Auckland beach, with its dramatic cliffs and gannet sanctuary, inspired much of his work during the 1970's. Here, McCahon imagines Oaia Island, which lies off Muriwai Beach, as Herman Melville's great white whale, Moby Dick.

First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue.  $5.20

Technical information

Date of issue: 7 May 1997
Stamp designer: Hamish Thompson, Wellington, New Zealand
Printer: Southern Colour Print, New Zealand
Stamp size: 30mm x 44.28mm
Sheet size: 100 stamps per sheet
Process: Lithography
Perforation gauge: 14
Paper type: 104 gsm red phosphor coated
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 7 May 1998.